- **Short Answer**
- You should not convert your images directly into the printer space, as you then **lose** the ability to properly edit and color manage them because your underlying color data will have been irremediably altered.
- For color management (*ICC* color management that is) to work, each device involved in the process is characterised with an *ICC* color profile. As any image is inherently in a given color space (usually a *RGB* color space such as *sRGB*, *Adobe RGB* or *ProPhoto RGB*), there is a need to describe it. Usual image formats embed an *ICC* color profile for that purpose. The display is also characterised by its own separate *ICC* color profile (that can be created using a color profiling tool with a matched software package). Finally, at the end of the chain, the printer should also be characterised with a dedicated color profile, which will be also dependent on your paper and ink characteristics.
- **Color Spaces**
- Color spaces are geometric representations of color in a space of usually 3 dimensions. When producing image on a computer, people are usually working with a device dependent *RGB* color space. This *RGB* colourspace, (commonly *sRGB*, *Adobe RGB* or *ProPhoto RGB*) can only encode a certain amount of colors depending its gamut, the working bit depth / numbers representation, thus the choice of a working colourspace is dependent not only from the subject you want to depict but also the way you will store your images. The smaller the color space and the more difficulty you may have in preserving the full range of original colors (i.e. *sRGB* has a fairly small gamut compared to *ProPhoto RGB*, and when converting from former to the latter, multiple colors may end up being the same).
- **Display / Screen Profiling**
- In order to properly observe images with accurate color representation on a computer display, it needs to be calibrated. Screen calibration is usually done with a specialised device such as a colorimeter or a spectrophotometer, which measures the color output of your display and produces a dedicated *ICC* profile for it and its surround (the environment within which it resides).
- A dedicated *ICC* profile will ensure that your screen is reproducing color as accurately as possible, and your images should not only look more faithful,
- but will exhibit finer levels of contrast between pixels better, so what you see on screen should be crisper and sharper. Having a calibrated screen is not a necessity, however it is highly recommended, as comparing prints to an oversaturated screen can make you wonder why things don't seem to match up.
- **Print Profiles**
- To print accurately, you need a print profile. Note that is "print" profile, not "printer" profile. A print profile actually takes into account the printer, its inks, as well as the paper being printed on. Print is probably the most complex thing to calibrate, as so many potential factors come into play, so it is not generally recommended to create your own print profiles.
- Most paper manufacturers offer ICC profiles for all of their papers and a variety of printers. At the very least, the top Epson and Canon printers will have ICC profiles from most paper manufacturers like Hahnemuhle, Illford, Red River, etc. If you do not yet have the necessary print profile, I highly recommend finding them and installing them into your system.
- **Image Color Management**
- It should be noted that the print profile calibrates the printer, ink, and paper....NOT the image. The image is calibrated by its color space. For the whole entire color space conversion process to work, Image Color Management, or ICM...a component of most computer systems these days, will handle conversion for you. So long as each component involved is properly calibrated, the image viewed on screen and the image printed should look very similar. There will always be some slight differences due to the nature of print (i.e. printing on a warm paper while your screen is calibrated to a D65 whitepoint will result in a white balance shift between the two.)
- If you assign a profile for a different component to the wrong thing, such as a print profile to an image, not only will the image look wrong on screen, but it will likely look doubly wrong in print. Keep each component assigned its proper profile from the proper pool of valid profiles, and everything should remain consistent.
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